Dumb Weight Capacity Question.

-- Last Updated: Sep-12-08 4:38 AM EST --

Hi everyone.

I'm a total newbie to all of this, but I'm interested in getting a kayak all set and done with.

My question involves the weight capacity of a boat.

I weigh, with the paddle that I have purchased and my life vest, about 241 lbs. Yes...the paddle is light weight...yes, the vest is light weight...yes, I weigh about 237 or so without them...so yes, I'm fat!!!

Anyways, my question about the capacity of boats is this:

If the capacity of the boat is listed as being MORE than my weight, will I have any kind of trouble using it?? Like, if the boat's capacity is listed as 300 lbs, will I have trouble with the boat due to the fact that I'm on the upper end of the scale??

Or do the capacity ratings mean that you can put that much weight into them and still have them function as they are supposed to??


your last point
What you said…

“Or do the capacity ratings mean that you can put that much weight into them and still have them function as they are supposed to”

…is my take on this.

So long as you are under the weight limit, you should be fine.

If you are way under the weight limit, you may have issues of the boat not responding correctly (can’t lean the boat, boat is over affected by wind, etc.). Actually, some boats do better with loads closer to their limits. The way to correct this is to add some weight inside the boat (carry more gear).

I think you’ll be fine…
with a boat in that range if you don’t overload it with a lot of gear.

A kayak actually needs the weight in it to perform properly. It is designed to displace a certain amount of water in order for the hull shape to interact with the water the way it was meant to.

At 241 w/ a 300 lb capacity you are using 80% of the boats capacity. (241/300 = .803333 = 80%) You said that is you, your paddle, and a PFD. However, there is safety gear to consider - also snacks, water, etc…

Are you planning to camp out of your kayak?

That is more gear. You could easily approach or go over 100% capacity that way. Now you run into a performance problem by having too much hull submerged.

At 241 lets add safety gear and food/water: spare paddle, bilge pump, paddle float, first aid kit, whistle, etc…

Say it comes up to 260 lbs. This is for a day paddle.

If you went with a higher capacity boat of 350 lbs you would be at 74% of capacity. (260/350 = .7428571 = 74%)

Still displacing enough water with minimum gear to not be affected by Peter-CA’s scenario of under-loading. Yet you still have 90 lbs of reserve weight that can be added before you make the boat sluggish and unresponsive.

Short answer - 300 lb weight limit on boat is fine for you for day tripping and light weight camping…

If you envision yourself making week long camping trips where you need to paddle in with food and full camping supplies, you may want to consider a higher weight capacity kayak.

Mostly marketing
As far as I know there’s no objective standard for the weight ratings and it’s not like the boat just sinks if you are 301 lbs.

You probably want something that gives you some margin and with the understanding that if you load a 300 lb capacity boat with 350 lbs, the performance might suffer a bit.

Test paddling tells you so much more about how the thing will handle and perform. Spec’s on the internet can be misleading. I know it’s not always possible and this time of year there are deals worth considering even if you end up selling the boat in the spring.


Thanks for the help everyone.

I won’t be using the kayak for anything other than some flat water and slow river paddling just to get my feet wet…no pun intended!!!

But seriously, I live in a house with no room for big kayaks even in the garage, so I’ve been looking at inflatables for the time being. I got good deals on one for me and one for the wife and I ordered them…but then started worrying a bit about the capacity.

I am a person that grew up on the water…canoe, pedal boat, power boat, pontoon, fishing boat…blah blah blah. I have since however moved out on my own and large boats like that Ski Nautique that I want aren’t in my realm of financial possibility. I wanted something to get back out on the water. The wife, on the other hand, has never in her life been on anything that floats. So I talked her into letting me buy us some inexpensive kayaks just to see if we actually enjoyed it. I did quite a bit of searching and settled on the ones that I ended up getting. My ultimate goal is for her to enjoy this immensely (because I know I will) and then at the end of next season when everything is on sale again then we will move up in quality and maybe even try to make room for some hardshells.

Once again, thanks for the advice!!


weight not the only issue
Weight/Load recommendations should only be used as a guideline, the actual fit in the boat, how the loaded boat sits in the water is way more important.

No standards
There are no industry standards for measuring capacity, or even for measuring dimensions. Some manufacturers use numbers that are deceptive. Old Town lists a “maximum load range” that can be far more than most paddlers would be comfortable with – I don’t know anyone that would want to put 1,100 pounds in a Penobscot 16 in real-world conditions.

A boat that’s too big for the load can also cause difficulties – it can be more vulnerable to wind and harder to maneuver.

Your best bet is to try boats of different sizes and see what works for you.

pet peeve

– Last Updated: Sep-12-08 11:29 AM EST –

This always irritated me.

That's why I try to list an ideal weight range on all my designs.

And there's ways to calculate it very accurately and easily.

Many manufacturers just don't want to list them because it would cut sales if the buyers realized that 10' plastic tub they're looking to buy is going to move like a lumbering battleship with a normal sized adult on board.

Design Load Limit versus Maximum Load
I’m not sure that this distinction has come through clearly yet in this thread, so at the risk of repeating what others have said:

  • there isn’t a standard for what “load limit” means - this means that when manufacturers are detailing the Load Limit some will be providing the Design Load Limit and some the “max load limit”
  • for canoes the “max load limit” is the max load that leaves a freeboard of 4", I’m not sure what the equivalent is for kayaks or if there is an agreed standard
  • the “max load limit” leaving a 4" waterline on a canoe is usually far greater than the Design Load Limit which is the weight range in which the boat is designed to perform well - on a canoe this could be a 2-300 lb. difference
  • for your question the # you really want is the “Design Load Limit” in which case if you mention what make/model of kayak you are looking at I expect folks can give you some good feedback on the specific kayak




You mean they don’t weigh the boat
down until the water is 6" below your eyeballs?

You ain’t racing

…so just about any boat will do what you want.

Heck I max weighted my kayak for several really long trips (30 & 49 days) before I knew anything about max weight.

Just find a boat that is comfortable and RED in color.

Paddlin’ on


And you ain’t fat. I weigh what you do
and I know I’m not fat.

Fat people don’t wear Tilleys

Ah Heahby Change Yoah Name…
from “Strang” to “Galvanized Anchor Chain”.


Dats wat yer reckon?
Ah’s fat an’ waar a Tilley.